Stephen Mejias

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Stephen Mejias Posted: Sep 07, 2012 2 comments
As I mention in last month’s “Entry Level,” September 5th would have been John Cage’s 100th birthday, and celebrations of all shapes and sizes are taking place around the world. Fans of Cage’s music are especially lucky: several exciting new releases are now available.

Here are just a few:

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Stephen Mejias Posted: Sep 06, 2012 0 comments

My review of Flying Lotus' fourth full-length album, Until the Quiet Comes, is scheduled to appear in our November issue, but this short film, directed by Kahlil Joseph, does a fine job of depicting the record.

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Stephen Mejias Posted: Sep 05, 2012 4 comments
I will not pretend to understand the concept behind The Ganzfeld EP, electronic duo Matmos’ upcoming release, but I will simply say that I dig it, deeply. From the press release, because I can’t say it any better:

The EP and the album [The Marriage of True Minds, available early 2013] have the same conceptual basis: telepathy.

Telepathy!

For the past four years the band have been conducting parapsychological experiments based upon the classic Ganzfeld (“total field”) experiment, but with a twist: instead of sending and receiving simple graphic patterns, test subjects were put into a state of sensory deprivation by covering their eyes and listening to white noise on headphones, and then Matmos member Drew Daniel attempted to transmit “the concept of the new Matmos record” directly into their minds. During videotaped psychic experiments conducted at home in Baltimore and at Oxford University, test subjects were asked to describe out loud anything they saw or heard within their minds as Drew attempted transmission. The resulting transcripts became a kind of score that was then used by Matmos to generate music. If a subject hummed something, that became a melody; passing visual images suggested arrangement ideas, instruments, or raw materials for a collage; if a subject described an action, then the band members had to act that out and make music out of the noises generated in the process of the re-enactment.

The result, to which I am now listening and which is in turn driving me crazy, is perhaps the greatest work I’ve heard from Matmos—and that’s saying a lot, as Matmos generally blows my mind.

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Stephen Mejias Posted: Sep 04, 2012 0 comments
Drip.FM offers an interesting new way for music lovers to connect with their favorite record labels. The platform is free to participating labels, with no sign-up costs or usage fees; Drip.FM makes money when the participating labels make money, through a revenue share on sales. Labels set their own user-fees for access to a Drip.FM account. While content varies depending on the label, fans can expect to receive digital files (MP3 and WAV) of new titles on the day they are released (or sooner); randomly selected back-catalog titles; and plenty of enticing perks, such as exclusive, subscription-only tracks and remixes, and other giveaways (imagine: t-shirts, posters, LPs, CDs, concert tickets).

Back in June, AudioStream’s Michael Lavorgna reported on Domino’s new Drip.FM service.

Founded by Ghostly International and currently operating in closed beta, Drip.FM has also partnered with Dead Oceans, Dirtybird, Fool’s Gold, Luaka Bop, Mad Decent, Morr Music, Now-Again Records, Planet E Communications, Stones Throw, Wav.Pool, and now Jagjaguwar.

I recently signed up for an account with Jagjaguwar.

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Stephen Mejias Posted: Aug 31, 2012 0 comments

My latest addiction is “Stuff I’ve Been Reading,” Nick Hornby’s column for The Believer. I know: It's very hipster/nerdy of me to be reading this stuff; you might even think I live in nerdy Brooklyn. But, I swear, I live in Jersey City, and I have completely sincere and profound reasons for reading The Believer and "Stuff."

Not only does it remind me of how much I admire and enjoy Hornby’s writing—he’s clear, deep, funny, and extremely likable even when he’s being snarky and clever—but it also fuels my passion for reading. And when I read, I feel like a better person: stronger, smarter, healthier, whatever. Profound, see?

When I read, I at least feel like I have something to say. When I read, I’m happy.

You should check it out. In the preface to Housekeeping vs. the Dirt, the second of four published collections of “Stuff,” Hornby reminds us that reading addresses many of our needs, none more important than simple pleasure. Read the books you like, and don’t let anyone tell you that you shouldn't enjoy Moby Dick or The Hunger Games or whatever.

There’s something to be learned here, even for you know-it-all audiophiles.

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Stephen Mejias Posted: Aug 28, 2012 3 comments
Other than the fact that they’re a bunch of cute girls with a suitably high level of cute-girl energy, Teen isn’t the sort of band I typically get into. They’re not rapping about sex and money; they’re not just turning knobs on analog synths or chopping up bits of field recordings; they’re not sampling obscure 78s; they’re not playing 24 saxophones at once; they’re not making their guitars sound like vacuum cleaners; they’re not really lo-fi, but they’re certainly not hi-fi; they’re neither terribly weird nor completely normal. They’re somewhere in between. And, if you know me, you know that I tend to run screaming from that sort of thing. But there’s something about Teen’s sound, despite the fairly straightforward instrumentation (guitars, drums, keys, voices, percussion) that keeps me coming back.

That, by itself, is probably reason enough to buy the record, but I remain conflicted.

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Stephen Mejias Posted: Aug 17, 2012 0 comments
Over at AudioStream, my man Michael Lavorgna mentions Diogenes: Digital Home for Experimental Music. I stumbled upon the site yesterday. Thinking that ML would love it, I forwarded the link to him immediately. I was right!

For the adventurous music lover who craves new, unusual sounds—stuff that might challenge, that might delight, and that will certainly expand your mind—and for the audiophile who primarily uses a computer as a source, Diogenes is an online heaven.

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Stephen Mejias Posted: Aug 10, 2012 20 comments
Stereophile’s editorial assistant, Ariel Bitran, directed my attention to this USA Today article on an interesting turntable from U-Turn Audio, a company founded by three close friends—Ben Carter, Bob Hertig, and Peter Maltzan—all in their early 20s, who were tired of playing records on cheap USB turntables.
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Stephen Mejias Posted: Aug 03, 2012 1 comments
Until the quiet comes, we can enjoy Flying Lotus’s new mixtape, Lovers Melt, Pt.III. Here in the Stereophile office, it’s been blowing our minds all week, helping us get through the beast that is “Recommended Components.” We hope you enjoy it, too.
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Stephen Mejias Posted: Aug 03, 2012 9 comments
Congrats to Josh Ray and Urban Fidelity for reaching their Kickstarter goal. With the funding necessary to get off and running, Urban Fidelity seems poised to make a big debut at this year’s Rocky Mountain Audiofest. In pictures, they're gorgeous, but I can’t wait to find out how these speakers really look and sound.

But at just $399/pair ($299/pair, if purchased before August 8), they seem like a bargain: floorstanding loudspeakers, made in the US, featuring several unique designs by independent artists.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

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Stephen Mejias Posted: Aug 03, 2012 8 comments
In my August column, page 43, just before I have a blast with the $400/pair Definitive Technology StudioMonitor 45 loudspeakers, I discuss a few letters I’ve recently received from readers, asking if I’m satisfied with reviewing “lower-end” gear.

Am I satisfied?

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Stephen Mejias Posted: Aug 03, 2012 0 comments
I spotted this familiar magazine in the lobby of the hospital where, just last Saturday, my sister gave birth to a healthy, handsome boy.

It was our March 2007 issue—someone needs to renew the hospital’s subscription. Flipping through its pages was like taking a walk back in time.

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Stephen Mejias Posted: Aug 02, 2012 0 comments
Back in July 2011, we discussed the New Face of Vinyl. Young vinyl enthusiasts, Ben Meadors and Owen McCafferty, turned to Kickstarter to fund their dream of traveling across the country and meeting teens who were similarly interested in collecting and playing LPs. They met their goal of $6500 and made their way across the US, documenting every step along the way.

Now, Dust & Grooves’ Eilon Paz wants to document every face of vinyl. Paz, a Brooklyn-based photographer and vinyl enthusiast, plans to travel across the country, telling the great American story through its vinyl collectors.

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Stephen Mejias Posted: Aug 02, 2012 0 comments
Steve Shelley, rock-solid drummer of Sonic Youth and various other bands, has started a new record label called Vampire Blues. Releases will be available as LPs (with MP3 download cards) and as digital downloads. Will hi-res files be made available? We can hope.
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Stephen Mejias Posted: Jul 27, 2012 0 comments
When I first met Josh Ray at a hi-fi show several years ago, I was impressed by his desire to bring high-end audio to a larger audience—an endeavor that I can easily appreciate. At the time, Josh sat atop the masthead of the forward-thinking audio review website, Sonic Flare. Along with Danny Kaey and a small cast of writers, Josh made Sonic Flare a fun and interesting web destination. But while SF’s reviews were consistently informative, I always wondered if Josh’s interests were more aligned with promoting the overall idea and allure of high-end audio.

Today, Danny Kaey has assumed full responsibility for Sonic Flare, while Josh Ray turns his attention to a new endeavor: Urban Fidelity, a loudspeaker company aimed at bringing hi-fi to a new generation of listeners. Josh sees an opportunity:

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